Have you been to the grocery store lately?
Pumped gas in your car and watched the pennies jump?
Our dollar isn’t what it used to be.
But the hungry mouths who sit at our dinner table are still as hungry, and our (often comparative) expectations of the life we will help provide for those hungry mouths still exist, too.
As the proud wife of a former youth minister, and a SAHM myself, our family’s needs were always met but we were far from rich, financially.
My husband changed vocations a little over two years ago. We still aren’t rich, but we have what we need and we have more of the things we want.
It is from this place of experience that I write a word of encouragement for moms who feel like they can’t give their kids what they want to (regardless of your “why”) and to warn against the pitfall of comparison.
Social media, of course, can be a black hole of despair. Especially when we don’t have the means to provide activities that we see other kids joining in on or all the cute outfits we see them wearing. We want that for us… and we want that for our kids.
In the past, the guilt of not being able to give my child “this” experience or “that” thing would have been enormous for me—like a heavy boulder.
When my older girls were younger we really had to pick and choose which activities they could participate in. It wasn’t so much which would be better out of a slew of options nor an issue of schedule-fitting, but which we could afford. Or… it just wasn’t going to happen this time.
That kind of “no” can be as hard on a parent as it is on a kid.
From the glowing screen of my phone, I would swipe through pictures of moms with their girls in perfect ballerina pink, gingham-smocked dresses. I wanted everything sweet and beautiful for my girls, but we couldn’t usually afford what I wanted.
I would see the baby with their wood-etched name hanging over their perfectly antiqued crib and, often weighted with guilt, would think to myself that if the amount of love I had for my girls could translate to currency, they’d be lavished in all the early dance classes, soccer team photos, and pink gingham-smocked dresses that their hearts—or mine—desired.
What was I not giving my children that would make or break this childhood I had imagined for them? (For us…)
Do you hear the “for me” in that explanation as much as I do? I wanted those things for them but I really also wanted them for me.
Don’t you remember what they say the best things in life are?
You don’t have to scrimp, pinch, or find a way to pay for a good game of slapjack.
The therapy of throwing rocks into a river or a puddle—that’s free.
Laughing when the wind blows your kid’s hair in funny ways—free. (And character building!)
Sitting together when you eat a meal… priceless.
Looking at the stars, or telling family history stories—no charge.
And, they’ve yet to figure out how to price sunsets.
In Ecclesiastes 1:8–9, wise King Solomon proclaimed:
“The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
The fact remains that the best things in life are free. Always have been.
Even in my own fretting.
Take off that boulder of a burden.
For those who “can” financially for their kids, good for you. You should follow your convictions.
And for those who “can’t” financially, don’t fold under the burden of comparison.
My advice is to put the phone down if comparisons of what you can’t give to your child are weighing you down.
Delete the app. Set a parental time limit on your own device. Choose to turn off the comparison game.
Go look into the face of your baby (no matter their age).
Go kick the sand and watch the dust settle like a hundred flecks of gold.
Maybe you’ll remember the best parts of being a kid.
Maybe you’ll remember that more often than not, the best thing you can give your kid is you.